SOE: After kidnapping the General, Moss drove the General’s car, with him bundled in the back, through 22 road blocks

Simon Templar
Featured image
Billy (left) and Paddy (right) with their prisoner, Gen. Heinrich Kreipe, on the run in the mountains of Crete in 1944, pursued by thousands of German troops. source

The Nazis had prepared well enough to first conquer and then ruthlessly control the regions across the European continent, and the entire Nazi elite was trained over the years for the task.

One such commander was General Heinrich Kreipe, who during the Second World War was ambushed and kidnapped by personnel from the Special Operation Executive (SEO), a British military organisation that conducted secret operations all through the Second World War.

The nearly impossible mission was carried out by the SEO commandos in the small island of Crete in May 1944.

Billy Moss and Paddy Leigh Fermor in their stolen Wehrmacht uniforms

Billy Moss and Paddy Leigh Fermor in their stolen Wehrmacht uniforms Photo Credit

Kreipe was appointed the Commander of the 22nd Air Landing Division deployed in Crete on March 1, 1944, replacing another feared commander General Friedrich-Wilhelm Muller.

Muller had been appointed the German Commander in the Dodecanese and carried a reputation for merciless killings and brutality towards the local population.

The initial plan set out by the SEO officers Major Patrick Leigh and Captain Wilhelm Stanley Moss was to attempt the abduction of Muller; however, in early March when Muller was replaced by Kreipe the plan changed and the team decided to target Kreipe instead.

Billy (left) and Paddy (right) with their prisoner, Gen. Heinrich Kreipe, on the run in the mountains of Crete in 1944, pursued by thousands of German troops

Billy (left) and Paddy (right) with their prisoner, Gen. Heinrich Kreipe, on the run in the mountains of Crete in 1944, pursued by thousands of German troops Photo Credit

The team received support from the local resistance movement and managed to kidnap the General and successfully evade the Nazi search parties.

Locals played a vital role in setting the stage for the commandos to successfully execute the plan, they helped with liaison, preparing the local safety net, and intelligence gathering and above all helping the officers escape the island unscathed.

The plan to abduct the commander of 22nd Air Division General Muller in Crete was hatched in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

General Freidrich-Wilhelm Muller had earned a brutal reputation on the island and the locals absolutely hated the man for his monstrosity.

Major Patrick Leigh Fermor wanted to design a plan that could be carried out without shedding a lot of blood and to abduct the General in broad daylight and transport him to Cairo.

Another aim was to make sure that the locals didn’t have to face the Nazi reprisals for the abduction; for that, the Nazis had to know post-abduction that the mission was carried out by the British and not by the locals.

When the team of British commandoes including Major Patrick Leigh Fermor, Captain William Stanley Moss along with Cretan agents of the organization Emmanouil Paterakis, and Georgios Tyrakis left Cairo on a plane for Crete, the weather was not on their side.

Continue to 2